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We are getting used to having a tough economic forecast thrust in front of us (unless, we call São Paulo home). Indeed the past few months have seen us endlessly shot at with talk of double-dips (sadly not a brand of ice-cream) and quantitative easing (unfortunately not a gym exercise). But there’s another word that should be on lips in 2012: charming.

This issue contains our Charming Index which looks at the businesses, people and places that thrive because of this special quality. It’s a set of attributes fed by doing things based on human feeling and not because a focus group says it sounds good or the numbers seem to add up when you pile them on to an Excel sheet. The reason we think this word is key in 2012 is because it adds the DNA for longevity onto brands, businesses and neighbourhoods. Why will people always want to have a table at Osteria della Villetta or fly from Kagoshima airport? Because they’re attractive. As Stephen Bayley says in his essay, nobody ever wished they were less charming.

Companies hoping to cope with the buffeting winds of euro crises and bubble economies need to look around at the enterprises that pull through no matter what. Honesty, integrity, simplicity, durability, tactility are other words that help all manner or firms thrive but oddly they never seem to make it past the door or a business school. That’s because these things can’t be taught; you have to genuinely possess those qualities.

Charm also makes an appearance in this month’s Expo. We head to Charleston, South Carolina, to visit an old prison that has become the home of a glorious craft school where traditions thrive. And you can spy it in the wings of our fashion shoot, which takes place in a house in the south of England built by an architect who has lived there most of his life and knew it didn’t need annual makeovers. The Zum Schwarzen Kameel also has ample servings of charm to offer alongside its Viennese cooking. No wonder it has survived for centuries. But if your appeal is a little rusty, we might be able to recommend a charm school if you ask nicely.

×The Atlantic Shift

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